Leaders of the pack

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Working strategies for creating lead-gen programs With old revenue streams drying up or already scorched dry, magazine publishers are under pressure to squeeze out money from any and all sources. For audience-development departments, lead generation has emerged as a top demand, as every department in most b-to-b media companies is looking to feed its bottom line with it. This is a promising turn of events because audience developers, with their intimate knowledge of databases and the subscriber data that they contain, are key to making lead-generation programs work. As Kim Clothier, director of audience development at FMA Communications, put it: “We have the ideal skill set to design and implement lead-gen programs.” Jo Ann Binz, a circulation/audience-development specialist for consultant Quality Circulation Services, suggested that to create leads for advertising, circulators need to work closely with the sales team. “I've always tried to make it a practice to create a "team effort' environment with ad sale and circ/audience development,” she said, noting this is much easier to do in small companies. As a first step, Binz said, she provides the advertising department with quarterly reports detailing companies on the subscription files. “[Advertising] will then identify good leads that they can target for promotion efforts,” she said. As for generating subscription leads, Binz works with both the sales and Web teams to track every moment of contact between a person and the media company's products. “Every touch point on the Web sites asks for a registration of some level, even if it is just an e-mail and a name,” she said. “Those are used for sub as well as advertising promotions.” Jane D. Giles, director of business development at fulfillment company Cambey & West, said that many of her audience development-director customers are focused on lead generation this year, particularly through cross-promotion and the use of integrated databases. C&W pools prospective buyers and prospects in one database by getting information from a variety of sources, among them periodicals, e-newsletters, webcasts, conferences and merchandise buyers. Once merged, the prospects are targeted and passed along to marketing or advertising. “The beauty is that any Web promotion can have the reply form prepopulated, making it easier to get, process and track responses,” Giles said. Giles and others said that white papers and free webinars are good for cross-promotion of other products, as well as for generating leads for a third party. “Audience-development directors are tacking these offers onto online subscriber forms, often based on a demographic such as industry,” she said. “So the ROI is wonderful. Leads are uploaded back into the database, more data is appended for each record and thus the prospect pool expands.” Bobit Business Media has had some success using social media for lead generation. The company posted a survey from a partner on one of its publication's Facebook pages, with a free-gift drawing for all the entries. “We posted it a few times and got a good response from it,” said Desiree Bennett, senior audience marketing manager at Bobit. Bennett also recommended adding one or two lead-generation questions at the tail end of telemarketing requalification efforts, and knows a few publishers that have recently tried this. “Apparently, there has been some success,” she said. “We're naturally very protective of our circ files, so we haven't tried it yet; but we do have a potential candidate for a test this summer.” Circulation provider ProCirc has found free e-newsletters to be a good source of lead generation, said company President Cary Zel. “These e-newsletters act as a first step to build a relationship between the brand and the content and the consumer,” he said. “The e-newsletters alert readers to content in upcoming issues and new content on the Web site.” The e-mail list is then used to promote subscriptions. For paid titles, the same list is used to push gift subscriptions in the fourth quarter. Cambey & West's Giles also suggested asking for pass-along names from current subscribers. “[This] never loses popularity, by the way,” she said. “Today's technology makes it easier to solicit these.” For her part, Giles said she is relieved audience-development departments are finally getting more involved in lead generation. “After many frustrating years of manipulating assorted and often messy lists, the audience-development director has at last gotten the green light to integrate and is now able to devote that time to strategizing, extracting and promoting to targeted, unduplicated names.” M
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